A passage I read about how the “Democrats [are] Split Again Over [the] Party’s Agenda” brought to mind a question. First, the passage:
“During the 1990s, many liberals felt that Clinton abandoned class-conscious themes by supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement and a balanced federal budget. Conversely, in 2000, centrists charged that Al Gore fissured Clinton’s winning coalition by reverting to a populist message that they believe drove away affluent social moderates.”
Exactly what “populist message” did Gore pitch during his campaign for president? Even Michael Moore, who now spends so much time trying to convince his fans to vote Democrat, listed many ways in which Gore and Bush were arguing the same points from the same perspective. Back then, Moore thought the Democratic Party could not be fixed from the inside and Moore was more critical of the Democratic Party. But the two candidates were shockingly similar and both candidate’s views were clearly not populist.
Later, on another issue allegedly of interest to Democrats—voting rights—I read something that jogs the memory:
“In a measure of the dispute’s political delicacy, proponents are considered unlikely to find a senator who will co-sign the objection, which is required to force Congress to act on the challenge.”
The reminder is confirmed in the last line of the AP piece:
“In January 2001, some House Democrats challenged Florida’s electoral votes but no senators joined in the effort, dooming it.”
If you saw Fahrenheit 9/11 (or if you can watch it for about 10 minutes) you saw the most powerful scene in the whole movie—the scene where Congressional Black Caucus members are gavelled off the podium by “populist” Al Gore (then President of the Senate as well as Vice President of the United States) because no senator would sign the CBC’s letter challenging the Florida election results from 2000.
The Democrats really are a decadent party. But if the Republicans are smart, they’ll realize that they had better keep the Democrats around because the Democrats understand the value of colluding with the Republicans to keep competitors away, and because the Republicans should understand the value of a “competitor” which they can control (Democrats eagerly adopt the Republican issues and framing of those issues). So, when do progressives realize that the Democrats aren’t progressive and that progressive voters need to stand up for their values?
[Update: As of 2:24p Central time on January 6, 2004, during the Gonzalez confirmation hearings, C-SPAN reported that the US Senate had rejected the 2004 election challenge. While Gonzalez was stumbling to find the words to Dick Durbin’s question on whether the US military can use torture under any circumstances, the election deal had been sealed. The Senate vote was 74-1 against—only Sen. Boxer (D-CA) voted to support the challenge. So, please, come on and tell me why I can trust the Democrats to support my voting rights when they won’t support a challenge that would have ended no differently if they had all voted to support the challenge. It’s easy to be a saint in paradise, but Democratic Party responsibility has been laid down by the corporate funders who want Bush in office.]